Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sailing the Double High C's (A Trumpeter's Dream)

High note jazz trumpet legends nearly single-handedly changed the desire of young trumpeters all around the world decades ago. Hearing one of these giants live was an amazing and inspiring experience, and created a desire in so many trumpet players that it could be considered near cult status for trumpeters.

Maynard Ferguson, Cat Anderson, Doc Severinsen are just a few that were extremely sought after players... they each had a command of the upper register up to and beyond Double C. The more players tried to ascend to these upper register notes, the more the mystery built. Advice in every aspect of trumpet playing can be found. Mostly confusing, and some very much incorrect.

In 2004, I had the pleasure and distinct honor of being a part of the great Maynard Ferguson's band, and got to share a lot of time with "Boss" (as we called him). While on his band, I got to ask questions, take notes, and learn from the master.

What most players who begin this quest do incorrectly is mostly over compensate and fail to see what actually generates higher notes on trumpet. It is not sheer brute force that produces these notes with power, it is control and a balance between air and aperture.

To begin this journey properly, a player must master "whisper" tones... extreme soft playing that helps the aperture stay the size of a pin hole without pinching or straining the facial muscles. Starting with a second line G and holding it as soft as possible for extended lengths of time (2 minutes to 20 minutes) and allowing ample rest will start a player on the correct path. As the player develops more control, scales, etudes, and melodies can be incorporated into practicing that will have the player ascend to higher notes. Once control is established, playing louder is merely pushing a bit more with the air and allowing the aperture to open SLIGHTLY.

There is no fast solution to this. For many players this is a lengthy journey. Especially if the trumpeter has been practicing the "higher / louder / faster" method for months or years. Old habits will have to be broken... but once they are, the trumpet player will be amazed at how easily they can ascend to Double High C and beyond!

If you are a trumpet player on this quest and would like more information and resources, please visit Brass Player Solution

Read My Blog

Keith Fiala

Monday, September 14, 2009

Trumpet or Cornet - Frustration Keeps Us From Answers!

As a trumpet / cornet player continues to grow in their playing abilities, we all reach frustrating times with various skills that we either can't seem to master, or can't seem to get a grasp on quickly. To master trumpet/cornet playing, a student must have patience and tenacity! Both are required to help trumpet students through the frustrating times.

Most answers are simple than what our minds will let us accept. There have been many times that I've practiced something and it seems to fly out of the trumpet. Usually what goes through my mind is "it can't be that easy, I've been struggling so long with this!"

The quick answer is - yes, it can be that easy. Most people let the simple solutions escape them because of built up notions of complexity. Something that isn't performed easily within the first few tries, becomes more and more frustrating to the cornet/trumpet player. From double tonguing, high notes, better tone, playing pianissimo, controlling rhythm, performing difficult passages in a piece of music, learning scales, etc. These can all present challenges to each individual trumpeter or cornetist.

Working on major scales for younger students can be not only boring, but a daunting task because they are looked at as difficult in many ways. The F sharp major scale is one that has most notes sharp (or raised half step). What most students don't think about is that there are only 7 notes in each major scale. The F sharp scale has 6 sharps, so why not focus on the one natural? By practicing slowly and taking each note one by one, within a few practice sessions, this scale becomes easier. Within a week, the scale can be memorized. Within a month, it will play as easily for the trumpet student as the C major scale with no sharps or flats. Again - tenacity and patience!

For more simplified solutions, visit Brass Player Solution!

Keith Fiala

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Trumpet Books - Picking One That Makes Sense!

If you would like more information about Keith Fiala's book, or online trumpet lessons please visit: Brass Player Solution

There have been books written about all facets of playing the trumpet. Whether you want to learn better technique, better range, jazz improvisation, flexibility, or tonal control, you can find it.

What makes the choices difficult for the student is how clearly does the author speak to you? Many of the books are written in vague terms that may be clear to the author but not to the reader. And when it comes to trumpet playing, there is tons of confusion already involved for most players.

By reading about the author, you may be able to get a better idea of how they communicate. Is what they say clear, or do they go in to extreme boring detail? Do they use confusing terms, explanations, or say things that logically just don't make sense?

For instance - in the H.L. Clarke Book there is a statement that says "You will not need to strain on the high notes if you keep your lips flexible and avoid playing too loudly." What does that statement say to you? Does it tell you to not tighten your lips and use your air? Is it clear? It wasn't clear to me for over 20 years... This does NOT mean that the Clarke Studies isn't a great book, because it's one of the best written trumpet books that's ever been published. But it does mean that the reader will have to read the writing very carefully and find a teacher who understands what that statement is saying.

Is the author available? What I do is make myself readily available for any purchasers to be able to ask questions.

Take a good look in to "Secrets to Efficient Brass Playing" if you really want clarity on playing high range notes on trumpet!

Go to Brass Player Solution

Keith Fiala / Anna Romano

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Trumpet Players Survival Guide!

The joy that one feels during and after a great performance is indescribable! It is this huge rush of positive energy straight to your soul that makes you almost addicted to playing / performing. I think that musicians and athletes alike experience the same feeling. But what about a bad performance? For me, it's almost like the world is crashing (if I let it get that over powering).

What causes a musician (in this case a trumpeter) to want to give up their passion and look elsewhere? I think if one takes a close enough look, they will find a trumpeters survival guide packed away deep within themselves.

Whether it be in business, love, music, athletics, or anything else a person can feel passionate about, we all get in to a "survival" mode at one point or another. If you're not making enough money, or paychecks are inconsistent (good month / bad month), you can tend to stay in this mode for long periods of time. So much so that we stop looking for solutions to end this phase and go more in to just trying to make it to the next "good check". Music performance (trumpeting) is no different. It's easy to get "stuck" on one thing or another and become consumed with trying to get beyond the lacking skill.

For me, it was trumpet high notes and trumpet range. My range was something that in High School I really started focusing on. I literally got stuck on working on range... it's all I practiced. So much so, that all of my other playing needs were never fulfilled. This threw me in to survival mode with trumpet playing because I couldn't see passed this one aspect. So my rhythm, timing, technique, and even tone went down hill fast! My performances were not up to par like they once were, and things just snowballed from there. Missing one high note would literally throw me in to a tail spin and wreck the rest of my performance... not caring about the music, but more about my ability to amaze and inspire the audience. A selfish desire I must add!

I ended up quitting for 3 years... miserable because I had left behind the one very thing that made my life feel like I had purpose. Coming back to it, I decided that I would not focus all of my energy on that one aspect... so devising a better approach, I found that this one skill that I so desperately wanted, came along with the rest of the package, once I worked other issues out.

If you are a trumpet or cornet player who feels stuck in survival mode too, please visit Brass Player Solution!

Keith Fiala
Follow Me On Twitter

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Trumpet - The Heroes That Inspired Us

As far back as I can remember, trumpet playing was something that I wanted to do. My Uncle and his son both played, so by age 4, I was hooked! Not being allowed to start until I was between my 3rd and 4th grade year, it was something that I wanted more than words could say. But who really listens to a child that young...

As I got a bit older, I was introduced to trumpet players that became my hero's. Growing up in that era (70's & 80's), the internet was science fiction to most everyone, so these artists still had that certain untouchable / super star quality to them. I could listen to them on purchased records and tapes, but would have to wait for them to come through or at least close to my home town.

Trumpet players these days are literally a click away... even the super hero's of the past are readily available through the advent of the internet and You Tube. So resources to these players are very close by, and yet, are a fading memory. I was fortunate to grow up in the era that I did, as I got to hear many great artists live.

In 2004, I received the chance to tour with my ultimate super hero, Maynard Ferguson. I had followed him since as far back as I could remember. His name was always flying around both at home and at school because of his trumpet playing abilities. His command of the upper register and of the music were captivating! Sadly, we lost Maynard in 2006 to cancer... leaving a huge hole in the universe of trumpet players!

Today's heros such as Wayne Bergeron, Eric Miyashiro, Roger Ingram, Bobby Shew and countless others really need to be recognized and celebrated. Music and the arts have been morphed into something that is commercialized and less about the art itself. Jazz trumpet players sell less albums, and have fewer and fewer opportunities to play because of this. Find a trumpet super hero!

If you are a driven trumpeter and want to improve your trumpet playing, go to Brass Player Solution to find resources that are both honest, and simplified.

Keith Fiala